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AT MYSTIC SEAPORT MUSEUM! Mystic Seaport Museum has a variety of fun summer camps for children and youths ages 4-18. Where else could your child experience hands-on maritime skills on the campus of a living history museum, sail on the schooner Brilliant, sleep on board a historic ship, the Joseph Conrad, and learn how to sail on the scenic Mystic River? This year, we have some exciting new programs, including LEGOÂŽ camps, Float Box Derby: Create and Row Your Own Unique Vessel, Build a Bevin Skiff, Ocean Adventurers, and a Race Clinic Week. For more information visit www.mysticseaport.org/learn/summer-camps/




SEASCAPES .............................................................. 4



ADVANCEMENT NEWS ........................................... 5-8


MUSEUM BRIEFS .................................................. 9-11


A BOLD NEW DIRECTION .................................... 12-13



EDITOR GÖRAN R BUCKHORN editor@mysticseaport.org

NEW EXHIBITION: THE VINLAND MAP SAGA ......... 16-17 GERDA III ........................................................ 18-20


BOOKS ON VIKINGS ................................................ 21


FROM THE COLLECTIONS ........................................ 22



EVENTS AT MYSTIC SEAPORT MUSEUM....................... 23




SPRING / SUMMER ON THE COVER: This helmet from the 7th century is on display in the Museum’s new exhibition, The Vikings Begin. © Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum.





| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |




ere is some of the backstory

create outstanding value for membership,

regarding an exciting Museum

we have a timely opportunity to launch a


comprehensive initiative to broadcast our

In the previous issue of Mystic Seaport

accomplishments and our future exhibi-

Magazine, we introduced the concept of

tions as well as to present the Museum in a

the Era of Exhibitions, the phrase we have

manner consistent with our bold and more

given our recent efforts to bring forward

contemporary thinking. In short, it was

compelling and memorable exhibitions that

time to ask the experts, given everything

capture the diverse stories, themes, and

that Mystic Seaport has accomplished and

events regarding the sea.

seeks to do via its Strategic Plan, how best

And do we ever have an extraordinary line-up for 2018! This comprehensive effort is the strong



to position a nearly 90-year-old historic institution to be more relevant in a changing world.

outgrowth of the Museum’s 2017 Strategic

We asked this question of a number of

Plan driven by the vision to reimagine the

marketing agencies, and in the process

interchange between maritime heritage

were pleased to find Carbone Smolan Agen-

and broader contemporary culture. The

cy (CSA) in New York City. Their approach

2010 Strategic Plan yielded some impres-

and ideas best captured what we have

sive results, including the completion of

been articulating within our practices and

the Charles W. Morgan restoration and her

our vision. As a result of their research, it

historic 38th Voyage; the institutional com-

was strongly suggested that Mystic Seaport

mitment to fully embrace the principles of

bring “Museum” back into its name, front

public history as our guiding philosophy; and

and center, and with emphasis. What you

the design for and completion of the Mc-

see on our website, on campus signage,

Graw Gallery Quadrangle project, including

and in this issue of the Magazine, is our new

the Thompson Exhibition Building. The latter

logo represented in a bold color and design

serves as a strong, evocative symbol for the

that is consistent with the direction we set

manner in which Mystic Seaport continues

a number of years ago in designing the

to evolve as an organization dedicated to

Thompson Building. Together, the building,

inspiring an enduring connection to the

our programs and exhibitions, and now our

American maritime experience.

logo all say the same thing: Mystic Seaport

The 2017 Strategic Plan has, at its core, several key components aimed at pro-

Museum is indeed evolving and embracing contemporary culture.

ducing a more successful and sustainable

In addition, CSA has created new adver-

future, including the commitment to cre-

tising messaging which is both an invitation

ating immersive and interactive experi-

and a call to action. I’d like to think that

ences campus-wide, developing the fullest

Carl Cutler, one of the Museum’s founders,

potential of our staff, sparking dialogue

would embrace the concept of “Radical

about contemporary issues, and produc-

Craft: Get Into It” when he asserted that

ing dynamic exhibitions that capitalize on

the Museum should be “an inspiring force

our collections and the talents of our staff

for the future.” Our invitation to the public

and span a broad spectrum of maritime-

is to come to Mystic Seaport Museum and

related subjects.

get into the immersive experiences. Our

Increasing the number of visitors to the

promise is to spark contemporary con-

Museum across four seasons, with a focus

versations, grounded in history, through

on appealing to new and diverse audiences,

the Museum’s work across diverse issues

is fundamental to developing a stronger

facing us today.

business model. Some organizations sub-

Take note and Get Into It!

scribe to the philosophy of “build it and they will come,” which is more an exercise in wishful thinking than it is an expression of a sound business model. Given all Mystic Seaport has done in recent years to enhance the visitor experience and to


| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |



A D VA N C E M E N T N E W S Newly appointed Senior Vice

time. In addition, the artistic

President for Advancement,

heritage of the Salish people

Laura Hopkins speaks to Mystic

was not well known. The Salish

Seaport Museum Magazine.

were deeply involved in the project and approved every

Where did you come from?

single object on the check

That is a complicated question.

list. It took seven years for

I grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., but have

the museum to successfully

lived a longer period of time on

mount the show. On the week-

the West Coast, mostly in Seattle.

end it opened, the National

I summered on Cape Cod as a

Endowment for the Humanities

child and on Martha’s Vineyard

presented a major award on

and Block Island as an adult. I

site and hundreds of Salish

have always loved this area.

people converged on Seattle,

I spent 17 years at Seattle Art

holding an emotional three-

Museum in a variety of positions,

day celebration at the mu-

advancing from grants manager

seum. It was such a high.

to associate development director. My priority was to raise the

Why did you want to come to

contributed revenue necessary

Mystic Seaport Museum?

to support exhibitions and ac-

I love Mystic—it feels more

companying education programs.

like home than anywhere else

Each traveling exhibition and pro-

I’ve lived. My husband John

gram is a unique opportunity to

and I moved here last spring,

cultivate enthusiastic support

and became members of

from individuals, foundations,

Mystic Seaport Museum the

and government agencies. Dur-

first week we lived here. We

ing my tenure there, the museum

appreciate the culture here—

tripled in size and successfully

it’s a boating community and

completed a $200 million capital

authentic to its history. I revel

campaign. One of my key objec-

in the heritage of this organi-

tives at Mystic Seaport Museum

zation, the wealth of knowl-

is to work with the leadership

edge here, and the grittiness

team and our trustees to help

of the Shipyard. Mystic Sea-

build a successful and sustainable

port Museum is the foremost

model to support a year-round, exhibition-driven program. I also directed advancement departments at two smaller nonprofits, building major giving programs, running annual fund campaigns and adding to membership



maritime heritage museum in the country and I appreciate the excellence and breadth of its collections and the quality of the staff and board. I am honored to be a part of this leadership team.

ranks. Working as a consultant to non-profits for several years has raised my awareness of the critical importance of having an engaged Board of Trustees. Mystic Seaport Museum has one of the best boards I have experienced.

What are your other interests? If I am not working, I want to be in a boat on the water, in my art studio painting, walking our two spaniels, practicing yoga, or reading by the fireside. My mother lives at the Senior

What in the past has given you pride?

Living Community StoneRidge in Mystic and I appreciate being

I have had the privilege of bringing in contributions that

so close by. This summer, I hope she comes to the Museum

supported many wonderful art shows. One remarkable project

to volunteer. I understand we have a vital corps of Stone-

was an exhibition of Salish art at the Seattle Art Museum. It

Ridge volunteers.

was difficult to find funding because of the economy at the


| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |




PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS OF THE AMERICA AND THE SEA AWARD 2017 David Rockefeller, Jr., and Sailors for the Sea 2016 Bob and Rod Johnstone – J/Boats 2015 Nathaniel Philbrick 2014 Charles A. Robertson 2013 Gary Jobson 2012 Jon Wilson and WoodenBoat 2011 The Honorable John F. Lehman 2010 Sylvia A. Earle 2009 William I. Koch 2008 Thomas B. Crowley, Jr., and the Crowley Maritime Corporation


2007 David McCullough 2006 Olin J. Stephens, II

SAVE THE DATE: OCTOBER 3, 2018 Mystic Seaport Museum is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 America and the Sea Award: groundbreaking expert big boat and match racing sailor Dawn Riley and Oakcliff Sailing, where Riley

Riley said. “At Oakcliff, we try to be re-

Through conferring the award, the Mu-

spectful of history as we create future

seum is recognizing Riley’s impact on the

leaders of our sport and protectors of

world of sailing through her determination

our environment.”

and leadership, and her continued efforts

The award will be presented at a gala on October 3 at the Metropolitan Club in

has served as executive director for the

New York City. The celebratory annual

past seven years.

event will include the award presentation,

through training and opportunities. For more information about the gala, please contact the Advancement department at 860.572.5365 or

“I am honored to join an impressive

auction, paddle raise, entertainment, and

group of past recipients of this award, in-

dinner. Sponsorships range from $10,000


cluding Sylvia Earle, a hero to our planet,”

to $50,000; single tickets are $1,000.

Sherri Ramella is Advancement Events Manager.

AMERICA AND THE SEA SOCIETY EVENTS America and the Sea Society level donors to the Annual Fund and their guests enjoyed several special events in the last few months, ranging from tours of the Watercraft Hall; presentations on myriad topics, including restoration projects and the upcoming exhibition schedule; to the opportunity to climb down into the cargo hold of the storied Gerda III. But perhaps the most memorable experience was the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Budweiser Clydesdales at the Museum in March.


to improve and promote the U.S. in sailing

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THE MEMORIAL GARDEN Mystic Seaport Museum is fortunate to have many longstanding members and supporters whose lives are deeply connected to the Museum. Each year, we receive dozens of inquiries from families who have lost loved ones and would like to honor or memorialize them at the Museum. We would like to satisfy all of the families who feel such strong connections to Mystic Seaport Museum and who wish to honor and remember loved ones. This past fall, we undertook a project to reorganize The Memorial Garden located behind the Treworgy Planetarium. The gazebo was moved toward the center of the garden and a new path of paving stones leads into the garden encircling the gazebo. Four pink granite benches were added to the garden as well as the lovely “Touch Me” sculpture by Katherine Todd Johnstone. This spring, the perennial borders were replanted, completing the project. This lovely garden is a quiet and peaceful space at the heart

helped to build and sustain the institution over the past eight decades. In support of this aim, we are pleased to offer personal engraving on the paving stones and benches within the garden. If you would like to learn more about The Memorial Garden

of Mystic Seaport Museum grounds. It is also a space that the

please contact the Advancement Department.

Museum has dedicated to honor and remember those who

Chris Freeman is Director of Development & Legacy Giving.


later went on European cruises with the Johnsons. These experiences set the sisters on a course of maritime activity that spanned their lifetimes—they went on to

Hope and Ruth, known by many as the

run their own boating trips in France for

Atkinson sisters, spent their lives making

nearly 20 years.

Dartmouth and New Bedford better places

When the Atkinson sisters died (Hope in

to live. They had a genuine interest in

2013 and Ruth in 2015), it was only natural

building community and took their civic re-

that they would leave an inheritance to

sponsibilities seriously. They were charter

the organizations they cared so deeply

members of organizations too numerous

about in life, including Mystic Seaport Mu-

to list here, and had specific interests

seum. In recognition of their generosity

focused on environmental conservation, the arts, preservation of history, youth development, and municipal governance. The sisters were descendants of the Nye family, whose Nye Oil Company has been an integral part of the New Bedford economy from 1844 to the present day. Growing up in the region, they knew the

Hope (left) and Ruth Atkinson.

Morgan returned to New Bedford, Hope visited the whaleship several times. The sisters grew up on the water, sailing Beetle Cat boats in the Girl Scouts Mariner Program. Around 1949-50, they

Charles W. Morgan well from her days at

were sailing with the Girl Scouts onboard

Round Hill, the estate of Colonel Green.

the brigantine Yankee with Captain Irving

During the summer of 2014, when the

Johnson and his wife “Exy.” Hope and Ruth

and honoring their passion for education, youth training, and maritime adventures, a plaque will be installed in the Mystic Seaport Museum Sailing Center. Just as Hope and Ruth were inspired by the Johnsons to make maritime cruising a part of their lives, the sisters wished to “Pay it Forward,” so that future generations could have the same opportunity. Chris Freeman is Director of Development & Legacy Giving. SPRING / SUMMER 2018

| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |



AMC AND THE MUSEUM PARTNER ON THE FRANKLIN EXPEDITION On December 1, Mystic Seaport Museum will open the exhibition Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition. The Museum is partnering with AMC Networks’ new series, “The Terror,” which premiered on AMC on March 26. The exhibition chronicles the events from the historic Franklin exploration. Sir John Franklin’s quest to find the Northwest Passage is well known in Great Britain and Canada, where it is told with national pride. While the Franklin story is less known in the United States, Museum-goers will find that it has inspired generations of historians, painters, writers, and songwriters. The story has found its way into fiction—Jules Verne (in 1866), Mark Twain (in 1875), and more recently, Clive Cussler (in 2008)—but also into art and music: James Taylor’s The Frozen Man and Sinead O’Connor’s cover of the ballad Lady Franklin’s Lament. More people will be familiar with the Franklin story as AMC Networks aired the 10-episode series “The Terror,” executive produced by the acclaimed Ridley Scott and based on the bestselling book by Dan Simmons. The story is, without question, one of history’s great mysteries. In the case of “The Terror,” TV viewers were presented with a fictional account that adds an element of horror, and while this is unquestionably artistic license, we are just starting to learn how Franklin’s men perished. As part of the partnership, AMC Networks is providing Mystic Seaport Museum with Virtual Reality software that will give the Museum’s visitors a sense of what it would be like to be stranded in the ice aboard one of Franklin’s ships. Visitors will also be able to see footage of the ship the film crew built for filming the series. “The story of Franklin will capture visitors to the Museum just as it has captured others over the past 150 years,” Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport Museum, said. “There has long been an important link between understanding the ties—and the separations—between historical and fictional accounts inspired by history. We embrace the opportunity to do just that as we and AMC spread awareness of Franklin.” John Urban is Director of Major Gifts and Strategic Partnerships.


| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |



A SHINY VOLUNTEER Walter Ansel and the shiny Volunteer.

One thing about wood: It’s not shiny.

ployees to receive extra training in spe-

led by Scott Noseworthy and volunteers John Seravezza and Jim Cream.

Sure, you can sand it and varnish it

cialized areas. Ansel is halfway through a

and make it all smooth and shiny. But it

four-year Yacht and Boat Design program

They took advantage of having a high-

doesn’t start out shiny.

at the Westlawn Institute of Marine Tech-

tech friend in nearby Groton, Peter Leg-

nology, MD, studying design using all hull

nos, whose company LBI does precision

structural materials.

metal cutting using a water jet. They took

Aluminum, on the other hand, is shiny. From minute one, it’s smooth and shiny, and if a ray of sunlight falls

So her name derives from its creator’s

their Computer Assisted Design drawings

funding source, but also from the fact

and the aluminum to his shop and he cut

But other than that, building a boat

that Ansel was assisted by volunteers

it for them, saving them weeks of work

out of aluminum is strikingly similar to

Wayne Whalen and Zell Steever. Wha-

if they had done it by hand.

building one out of wood. Walter An-

len is the fabricator and welder on the

“This has been a total learning experi-

sel, senior shipwright at the Museum’s

team. Steever is the patternmaker and

ence,” Ansel said. “It’s been exciting to

Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard,

ship fitter.

do something completely different.” If

on it, it even sparkles.

has spent the last two years oversee-

Volunteer will work alongside the May-

the Museum had purchased a boat like

ing construction of an aluminum gar-

nard Bray, a garvey push boat designed

this, it would’ve cost considerably more

vey push boat that will be added to

and built at the Museum by Ansel’s father,

than the construction has.

the working vessels at Mystic Seaport

Willets Ansel, 40 years ago. Volunteer

They will paint the bottom but they

Museum this spring.

will have twice the horsepower of May-

won’t paint the rest of the boat for at

The “little tug boat,” named Volunteer,

nard Bray. The boat is made of marine-

least her first year, and Ansel hopes

was launched during PILOTS weekend

grade aluminum, measures 20-feet long

never. “We want the boat to cure and

in early May.

and eight-feet wide, powered by an

corrode a little,” he said. “When she’s out in the weather, it will turn dull.”

Ansel’s ability to design and build this

85-horsepower diesel engine that came

boat is thanks to a grant he received

from Museum Board Chairman Barclay

from the Museum’s PILOTS Fellowship

Collins’ sailboat. It was refurbished by the

Program, which provides funding for em-

engine restoration team in the Shipyard,

For now, it’s still shiny. Elissa Bass is the Museum’s Social Media and Digital Manager.


| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |



NEW WHALING HISTORY DATABASE In a recent collaboration between Mystic Seaport Museum and the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA, the world’s most comprehensive database on whaling history will open to the public this spring. The new website WhalingHistory.org will give scholars, researchers, teachers, students, and history buffs access to a valuable repository of whaling history at their fingertips. The database will have information on whaling voyages from the 1700s through the 1920s— more than 15,000 voyages, 2,500 vessels, 1,400 logbooks, and crew lists for more

Painting of the whaleship Charles W. Morgan by Tom Hoyne.

than 5,300 voyages. In a second phase, artifacts from both museums’ collections will be linked to

including logbooks, journals, ship registers, newspapers, busi-

WhalingHistory.org, giving the public access to paintings, scrim-

ness papers, and custom house records,” Paul O’Pecko, vice

shaw, ship models, etc.

president of Research Collections and director of the G.W. Blunt

“The whaling industry ranked ninth in the United States in

White Library, said. “Visitors to the site can search for informa-

overall value to the economy at its height in the mid-1840s.

tion in multiple fields, and serious researchers who would like

The documentation of that industry is extensive; the data

to manipulate the data and incorporate it in their own research

presented through WhalingHistory.org utilizes various sources

are welcome to download a zipped package of the data.”

THE MUSEUM LAUNCHES ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE PROGRAM WITH KEVIN SAMPSON At the end of June, Mystic Seaport Museum will begin its first artist-in-residence program with self-taught artist Kevin Sampson of Newark, N.J. Sampson, who began his career in the New Jersey police force and was the first African-American composite police sketch artist in the United States, uses cement, bones, tiles, fabric, paints, and wood to create powerful sculptures. His art speaks to family, memory, and loss through the lens of the African-American experience. Living aboard a vessel at Mystic Seaport Museum this summer, Sampson will engage with visitors and staff. He will use material from the Museum grounds, which will lead up to an exhibition of his work in the C.D. Mallory Building. Visitors will be invited to watch Sampson at work and engage with him as he draws the very fabric of Mystic Seaport Museum into a new and powerful vision of the American maritime experience. Sampson feels a strong connection to maritime culture. “My love of ships, salt, and the sea Kevin Sampson, Exhibition Artist-in-Residence; untitled work created in collaboration with community participants. Photo: John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI.


| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |


is limitless,” he said.


PEDAL THE MYSTIC RIVER! One of the Museum’s goals is to connect people with the water. We offer our popular Waterfront Cruise aboard the launch Liberty, and after the steamboat Sabino’s restoration concluded last year, she has resumed her downriver cruises. Many of the Museum’s visitors rent a rowboat or a sailboat from the boat livery. However, not everyone is familiar with rowing or sailing in these traditional small craft out on the river. In an effort to offer a less intimidating way to get visitors to connect with the water, we are adding a pedal-powered boat to the Boathouse fleet. Pedal boats have been part of New England summer vacations for at least 100 years. Some of the world’s most famous pedal boats, Boston’s Public Garden’s Swan Boats, have been operating since 1877, but leave the pedaling to the captain. Frederick Law Olmsted designed Central Park with boating clearly near the top of the list of park activities, but today only rowboats are available. This summer, Mystic Seaport Museum will launch a pedal boat, Yankee Pedaler, to allow boaters, novice and expert, to explore our waters under their own power. Yankee Pedaler fits up to five passengers and offers a fun way to view the Museum from the river. Visit the Boathouse to try it out! Shannon McKenzie is Director of Watercraft Programs.

CHARTER BOAT PROGRAM Thanks to generous donors, Mystic Seaport Museum added a number of vessels to the Yachts on Exhibit Program this year. Two of these vessels will be used as charter boats for the season. Mamie is a 28' picnic boat built in 2008 available for half day cruises on Fishers Island Sound. The boat is yours to decide your adventure. Do you want to cool off with a swim, or pull up to a restaurant dock for a lobster lunch? Or would you rather cruise the coastlines admiring our local architecture? Your

Gramp on the Mystic River. Photo courtesy of Craig Mackay.

captain will work with your group to take you where you want to go! Breake of Day is a 22' open launch available for one hour and 45-minute cruises on the Mystic River. Cap off your day in Mystic with an afternoon cruise to see the river in style! Both boats can carry up to six guests and you are wel-

Additionally, Gramp, a permanent part of the Museum’s collection, is available for short cruises for up to three passengers. The Museum has partnered with the Antique Yacht Collection in Newport, R.I., to manage the bookings of these vessels. Visit www.mystic-yacht-charter.com to learn more and make

come to bring food and drink to enjoy a relaxing time on the

your reservation.

water as your captain shows you the local sites.

Shannon McKenzie is Director of Watercraft Programs.


| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine | 11


Staff and volunteers pose in front of one of the new street signs moments after the public unveiling on May 1.

A BOLD NEW DIRECTION BY DAN Mc FA DDE N In the days leading up to May 1, anyone

going down Greenmanville Avenue might have realized change was afoot as orange paint started appearing on the posts of the Museum signs. Early on that sunny Tuesday morning, with occasional honks of support from passing cars and a big cheer of “Get into It!” from a gathered crowd of Museum staff, volunteers, and members of the Mystic community, President Steve White and Executive Vice President and COO Susan Funk removed a tarp to reveal one of the new street signs to announce the launch of the Museum’s new brand identity. The new brand introduces the addition of “Museum” to the name and a redesigned logo, website, and large-scale ad campaign.


history while making a space for people

evance of the Museum’s programs and

to talk and think about issues that mat-

exhibitions,” said J. Barclay Collins, chair-

ter to them. Museums are contemporary

man of the Board of Trustees.

centers of community and discourse and

The new logo presents a sharp, bold

we are updating our identity to reflect

visual identity in a shape that references

that role.”

the planks of a ship and waves rolling in

There is a little bit of “Back to the Fu-

from the sea with a cascade of stacked

ture” in the change. The Museum was

vertical text. The word “Museum” is em-

called Mystic Seaport Museum from 1989

phasized to highlight this key differentiator

to 1997. (We have long been incorpo-

for the institution. The brand color palette

rated as Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.)

is anchored by Nautical Orange, a bright,

The previous brand was implemented

inviting color with strong maritime refer-

in 1997 and the familiar red, white, and

ences, not the least being the stripe on

blue logo was introduced in 2004. The

the bow of every U.S. Coast Guard cutter.

decision to change the name and adopt

Orange is used often on ships and in ports.

a new look and feel to the brand came

It is used to attract attention and makes

out of a strategic planning process that

an object stand out, which is why it was

was completed in 2017. One of the primary

chosen to make sure the Museum stands

goals was to find ways to reach new and

out from the other institutions in Mystic

diverse audiences.

and other American maritime museums.

“This new direction signifies the

Carbone Smolan Agency, an indepen-

“Today’s audiences value the com-

commitment of the Museum’s Board of

dent design-led branding agency that has

munity that a museum creates,” said

Trustees to connect with, and inspire,

worked with organizations such as Musee

White. “By restoring the word ‘Museum’

the broadest possible communities and

de Louvre, The Metropolitan Museum of

to our name, we celebrate and showcase

to communicate the freshness and rel-

Art, Natural History Museum of Los An-

| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |


One element that is not going to change is the Member’s burgee. The dark blue flag with the white diamond and the letter “M” was the Morgan house flag and was adopted by the Museum as the symbol for membership and the Museum and it will remain flying over the Museum’s vessels as it has for decades.

geles, and Christie’s served as the agency of record for the Museum’s rebrand and launch. “We love working on museums because we understand that arts and culture are the lifeblood of a community. We were thrilled to be invited to partner with such a wildly interesting institution on their bold journey,” said David Mowers, executive director of strategy at Carbone Smolan Agency. Along with the new visual identity comes a new tagline: “Radical Craft. Get Into It,” which will anchor a new advertising campaign. It is an action-oriented statement that shines the light on the Museum as a place that celebrates immersive experiences, craft, and the evolution of seafaring innovation that was radical in its time. The ad campaign will feature outstanding imagery created by the Museum’s photography staff. The phrase “radical craft” has a dual meaning in this context. Many of the watercraft and objects in the Museum’s collections were radical innovations in their day. The sandbagger Annie, the Hickman

of radical and innovative thinking. Even a

rytelling,” said Funk. “The skills and crafts

humble Maine peapod is the result of care-

that our historic interpreters practice and

ful consideration to create a boat perfectly

share with the public were all innova-

adapted to its waters and purpose.

tive and essential at one time and that

But the main meaning of radical craft is about people.

is what we want to celebrate and call attention to.”

“There are very few places where you

“Our mission has not changed,” said

can have this kind of access to history,

White. “We still come to work every morn-

where the work is done by very skilled

ing to find ways to inspire in every visitor an enduring connection to the American

Sea Sled (precursor of the iconic Boston

craftspeople—and we define craft very

Whaler), a motor launch powered by nap-

broadly; it could be coopering or ship-

maritime experience.”

tha, or the J/24 sailboat are all examples

smithing, but also chantey singing or sto-

Dan McFadden is Director of Communications. SPRING / SUMMER 2018

| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine | 13

NEW EXHIBITION: THE VIKINGS BEGIN B Y M AR I K A H E D I N Between May 19 and September 30, the traveling exhibition The Vikings Begin: Treasures from Uppsala University, Sweden is on display in the Collins Gallery in the Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum. This is its first stop on a two-year U.S. tour—this fall it will go on to the new Nordic Museum in Seattle and then on to the American-Swedish Institute (ASI) in Minneapolis. The exhibition includes a number of exquisite, original, more than 1300-year-old artifacts from the centuries leading up to the Viking Age, held in the vast archaeological collections at Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum in Sweden. These objects are normally kept in vaults and have never before been displayed outside of Europe. To make sense of history, we often think in terms of defined periods and clear developments. Different “eras” in history replace one another. But when we look closer at how events actually unfolded, the view becomes complicated. Some phenomena seem to be rooted much further back in history while others linger on, even though they should have become obsolete long ago. At no point in time has this been more true than the Viking Age. Viking society dominated Sweden, Den-


mark, and Norway from about 750 AD to the middle of the 11th century, a period of some 300 years. During this time, the Vikings also traveled the world and made an impact in many places. Their settlements can be found along the Eastern shore of the Baltic, up the Russian rivers, in the Byzantine Empire, in England, along the Mediterranean, on Iceland—even as far away as North America. We often analyze the rise and fall of

Helmet, 7th century. © Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum.

the Vikings by looking at developments across the rest of Europe. At the beginning of the Viking Age, the Western Roman Empire had long since fallen and Western Europe had been in a state of disorder for a couple of centuries. The emerging Carolingian Empire was not really a strong, centralized power (Charles the Great was pronounced emperor in 800 AD) and the Detail from ceremonial object, 7th century. © Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum.


| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |


Dr. Marika Hedin is Director of Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum, Sweden. © Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum.

Christian Church was not yet the power it would later become. Thus, there was an

opportunity for the “raiders and traders”

pronounced, and out of this came an in-

from the North to make their way along

creased emphasis on battle and warfare.

the coasts and rivers in the west, east,

As the warrior culture emerged, skills in

and south. Using their skills as seafarers

battle became highly prized. This led to the

and warriors—in combination with the el-

manufacture of highly refined and often

ement of surprise—they were remarkably

beautifully adorned weapons.

successful in their foreign adventures.

The fall of the Western Roman Empire

But as the worldly and religious powers

left a power vacuum in Europe, which led to

gained momentum, the Vikings lost out.

a state of confusion across the continent.

As Christianity finally reached the North,

However, in southeastern Europe—around

the spiritual underpinnings of the Viking

Constantinople—the Eastern Roman Em-

worldview also disappeared.

pire, the Byzantine Empire, thrived. This

In 2015, three prominent Viking Age

meant that even in this partly disorganized

researchers at Uppsala University—Neil

world, trade continued to develop. Precious

Price, Charlotte Hedenstierna-Johnson,

objects from far away—even from remote

and John Ljungkvist—received funding for

places in the Far East—found their way

the ten-year project “The Viking Phenom-

into the market villages and trading posts

enon”. One aim of the project is to closely

of Northern Europe. They were extremely

study the emergence of Viking society by

expensive luxury items. In the emerging

looking at the developments within the

Viking society, having the resources to

Scandinavian Iron-Age culture that existed

enrich your warrior helmet with an Indian

before the Vikings. Although the project

gemstone was a symbol of great power.

is only just beginning, some interesting

But even more powerful than warrior

insights have already emerged. The rich

skills was the spiritual world, which could

archaeological finds from graves in east-

be accessed through the practice of magic.

ern Sweden—treasures that are held at

This magic seems to have ruled the everyTop: Detail from harness, 8th century. © Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum. Above: imported glass bowl, 8th century. © Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum.

day life of these early Vikings. Their religious

The Vikings Begin tells the story of this

come from both male and female graves,

ten texts, the sparsely populated land, and

emerging new society through a number

as both sexes played important roles in

of well-chosen original artifacts from the

society. Recent finds even indicate that

centuries leading into the Viking Age. With

women sometimes actively participated in

no written sources, no religious texts, not

battle; however, their power resided pri-

in a number of named gods. There was a

even records of trade, this early Viking

marily on the spiritual and magical sides of

uniform creation story that mattered to all

society remains elusive. Objects found

life. To understand the story of how the Vi-

early Viking-Age societies. In the decora-

in the graves of the rich and mighty are

kings began, the exhibition examines their

tions of the precious weapons, there are

what the researchers use in their study.

relationship with the outside world, their

often references to these common religious

Analyzed with new methods, these stun-

spiritual beliefs, the role of warfare, the

beliefs—to gods and to magical creatures

ning artifacts reveal a level of sophistica-

importance of water and waterways, and

such as snakes and dragons.

tion previously unknown to researchers.

how trade routes influenced their world.

Gustavianum—tell a more complex and interesting story about why and when Viking society actually began.

beliefs were not organized into a coherent religion as we know it; the absence of writthe lack of an organized church means that spiritual practices probably varied quite a lot. Even so, there existed a shared belief

Examples of such weaponry are in-

The early Vikings’ spiritual world was rich

Researchers have learned a lot about

cluded in the exhibition, but there are many

and multi-layered. They farmed the land,

Viking society by carefully analyzing the

more items on display. Gustavianum’s The

but with a maritime outlook: coast, inland

objects left behind. One particularly in-

Vikings Begin uses cutting-edge research

waterways, boats, and navigational skills

teresting type of object is the finely made

and a collection of world-class objects

were essential. They communicated with

weaponry. The Iron-Age society of the

to shed new light on the emergence of

the rest of the world through trade and

early Vikings was a farming economy—as

Viking society. Through our collaboration

travel, but simultaneously valued warrior

were all societies during this time. Given

with Mystic Seaport Museum, ASI, and the

skills. They were extremely skilled in two

its position in the North, the Vikings’ agri-

Nordic Museum, this light will reach farther

crafts: boatbuilding and metal works.

cultural economy was especially sensitive

west than the Vikings could have ever

The exhibition includes magnificent

to changes in climate. When a few years

dreamed. Welcome to the magical, mysti-

weapons, both for attack and defense, and

of extreme weather struck in the mid-

cal world of the early Vikings.

also smaller treasures such as jewelry and

500s, society seems to have changed.

objects with magical importance. The finds

Competition for resources became more

Dr. Marika Hedin is Director of Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum, Sweden. SPRING / SUMMER 2018

| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine | 15

NEW EXHIBITION:THE VINLAND MAP SAGA For generations, the Norse had told sagas about their ancestors’ adventures—how Vikings had traveled from Norway to Iceland and then to Greenland, which was colonized by Erik the Red. The Graenlendinga Saga tells the story of how Erik’s son, Leif Ericson, went westward and found three regions, including Vinland, which, according to the sagas, should have happened around year 1000. Soon, Yale University received angry letters from the public. “Twenty-one million Americans will resent this great insult to Columbus. Especially released on a day that we’re honoring him,” John La Corte, founder and president of the Italian Historical Society of America, told me-

Above: The Vinland Map. Courtesy of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

dia. Cartoons were published around the world with the press

On the right: A post card sender expressing his thoughts about Yale. Courtesy of the Librarian, Yale University records (RU 120). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

poking fun at the alleged slight towards Columbus. There were also protests among Yale students, who burned effigies of


BY GÖRAN R BUCKH O R N At the same time The Vikings Begin opened on May 19 in the Collins Gallery, so did another exhibition related to the Norsemen: Science, Myth, and Mystery: The Vinland Map Saga, in the R.J. Schaefer Building. When the Vinland Map was first unveiled by Yale University in October 1965, it immediately became one of the most valuable and controversial docu-


parchment (animal skin treat-

set between Leif Ericson Day on

ed to become a writing sur-

October 9 and Columbus Day

face) shows, on the far west-

on October 12. Yale had sent

ern edge, a large island called

out a press release, so readers

vinlanda insula, Latin for Vin-

around the world could read

land (today’s Newfoundland),

about the map in their morning

the mysterious land discovered

papers on October 11. The news

by Viking explorer Leif Ericson

burst like a bomb in certain

around the year 1000. The map

groups in America and the rest

suggests that the Norsemen

of the world, especially among

knew that the New World ex-

Italians and Italian-Americans.

isted before Columbus set sail—

U.S. citizens were taught that

an incendiary claim.

Columbus was the first Euro-

ments in the world. Dated by

Then, there was the choice

pean to reach North America.

Yale to about 1440, this map

of time to reveal the Vinland

Many Americans were caught

of the world drawn in ink on

Map, on October 11, 1965, a date

by surprise.

| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |


the map on campus. Among them was law student Joe Lieberman, who later became U.S. Senator for Connecticut. In the meantime, the American-Scandinavian Foundation printed a special edition of the Vinland Map and distributed it for free to its members. There was also a genuine interest among some groups, however. Particularly teachers and students were curious and wanted more information about the map. But where did the Vinland Map come from? The map first appeared in 1957 bound together with a 16page book called Tartar Relation, which in Latin describes a visit to the Mongol Empire in 1245-1247 by two Christian monks. In 1957, an Italian rare book dealer offered to sell

the volume to Laurence Witten,

donated the volumes to Yale the

a rare book dealer in New Ha-

following year.

ven, CT. Witten purchased the

“The map sparked a whole de-

volume for $3,500. Later, he ac-

bate in American culture about

quired a volume of a medieval text, Speculum Historiale, which seemed to once have been bound together with the Vinland Map and Tartar Relation; Witten proved this by matching up wormholes found in Speculum Historiale and Tartar Relation. In 1959, Witten offered to sell the two volumes to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Curators Alexander Vietor (who would later become a trustee at Mystic Seaport Museum) and Thomas Marston, who previously had been shown the Vinland Map by Witten, turned down his offer, as the library could not afford to buy them. On Yale’s advice, Paul Mellon, a Yale alumnus and philanthropist, bought the volumes for an unknown sum that was reported to be between $300,000 and $1 million. To determine the authenticity of the volumes, Yale set up a research team of Vietor and Marston, and two curators at the British Museum in London, R.A. Skelton and George Painter. After years of research,

who came here first and what that stood for and what that meant,” Nicholas Bell, senior vice president for Curatorial Affairs at Mystic Seaport Museum, said. The Vinland Map Saga explores the moment the map was released and public response, how experts around the world reacted, and how scientists concluded the map is a forgery. Ironically, although the map is not medieval, there is now archaeological evi-

FALL EXHIBITION: DEATH IN THE ICE This fall, Mystic Seaport Museum will open an exciting exhibition about Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin’s disastrous Northwest Passage Expedition: Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition.

dence of Norse contact with New-

On May 19, 1845, under great acclaim, the Franklin

foundland around the year 1000.

expedition departed from England on two Royal Navy

“The map allows us to tell a

vessels, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, to discover a

story about how Americans con-

Northwest Passage to Asia. In late July, Erebus and

nect to Norse culture. It serves

Terror were sighted in Baffin Bay by some whaleships.

as a bridge between the artifacts on display in The Vikings Begin, and our passion for Viking culture today,” Bell said. “This is the first time the map has been publicly displayed in the United States outside of New Haven in 50 years.” The Vinland Map Saga, which will run until September 30, is made possible in partnership with the Beinecke Rare Book and Man-

the four scholars reported back

uscript Library at Yale University.

to Mellon in 1964 that the volumes

Göran R Buckhorn is editor of Mystic

were, indeed, medieval. Mellon

HMS EREBUS in the Ice, 1846, François Étienne Musin © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection, BHC3325.

Seaport Museum Magazine.

This was the last time the ships and the 129-strong crew were seen by Europeans. Between 1847 and 1880, more than 30 expeditions were launched from several countries to discover the fate of Franklin and his men. Few signs were found what had happened to the expedition; tantalizing clues, including graves, provisions, Inuit tales, and a single handwritten note, told a grim story, but the men and ships were never found. In September 2014, 167 years after the British Admiralty’s search began, Erebus was found. Two years later, Terror was located in Terror Bay, off the southern coast of King William Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Both vessels were incredibly well preserved at depths of less than 100 feet. Dives aboard the wrecks are rapidly changing our understanding of what befell Franklin and his men. This exhibition pulls together every strand of this epic history, including expedition materials from London, Inuit culture and knowledge that led to the wrecks’ discoveries, and artifacts raised from Erebus, seen for the first time in 170 years. Death in the Ice will be on display from December 1, 2018, to April 28, 2019, in the Collins Gallery in the Thompson Exhibition Building. Mystic Seaport Museum is the debut American venue. This is a traveling exhibition developed by the Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau, Canada), in partnership with Parks Canada Agency and with the National Maritime Museum (Lon-

Joe Lieberman (middle) and classmates burning the “map.” Courtesy Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

don, United Kingdom), and in collaboration with the Government of Nunavut and the Inuit Heritage Trust. SPRING / SUMMER 2018

| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine | 17



Tensions started building up


to the breaking point as the Na-

he may not be the most

zis pressed more aggressively

impressive-looking vessel

to adopt measures that clashed

at Mystic Seaport Museum,

with Denmark’s commitment

where she is docked on the L.A.

to preserving the rights of its

Dunton dock by the Museum’s

countrymen. Despite German

South Entrance. The 39-foot,

pressure, the Danish parliament,

9-inch vessel, a lighthouse ten-

supported by King Christian,

der, was built in 1926 in Denmark

steadfastly rejected every effort

and given the name Gerda III.

to strip away the rights of the

The ensign, the white-on-red

slightly more than 8,000 Jews

cross Dannebrog, the national

living in the country.

Danish flag, which, according to


legend, came down to the Danish troops from the sky during the Battle of Lyndanisse on June 15, 1219, is proudly flying from her stern. Like many vessels in war time, her national flag is painted on the hull. Gerda III would probably have lived an unnoticed life as a workboat if it had not been

Drawing by Marjorie Rosenthal.


for World War II and a brave


young woman named Henny Sinding. In the early hours of April 9, 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Denmark. After a couple of hours of fighting, the Danish Army surrendered. To score some propaganda points, Germany allowed the Danish government and parliament to continue running the country more or less as before, making it a “model protectorate”—showing the rest of Europe what a “soft” Nazioccupation could look like. Germany even permitted the Danish


to the myth that, when the Nazis ordered Jews in conquered territory to wear the yellow Star of David on their clothing—a step in the process of stigmatizing and isolating the Jews—he wore a yellow star in solidarity with the Jews during his daily rides. In

this case the facts are better than the fiction. The story springs from a conversation in September 1941 that the King had with the Danish Finance Minister Vilhelm Buhl at Amalienborg Castle. When Buhl brought up his concern that the Nazis might force the Danish Jews to wear the star, both men agreed that this was against the Danish constitution, with the King adding that “the right thing would be for all of us to wear it.” The Danish Jews never had to wear the star.

head of state, King Christian X, to remain on the throne. During

Howard S. Veisz brings up the story of King Christian and

the first years of the German occupation, the King could be

the Star of David in his brilliant book about Gerda III, Henny

seen taking his daily rides on horseback unguarded through

and her Boat – Righteousness and Resistance in Nazi Occupied

the streets of Copenhagen.

Denmark, which was published in December 2017. Veisz, whose

Howard S. Veisz aboard Gerda III.



stand against anti-Semitism led

| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |


GERDA III So began a mass escape, a rescue mission unlike any other. From Gilleleje in the north of Denmark, down along the small fishing villages on the coast to Copenhagen and Dragør, a village south of the capital, all kinds of boats left for the Swedish coast day and night, making clandestine crossings with their human cargo hidden under deck. The boats arrived in the Swedish harbors of Helsingborg, Barsebäckshamn, Malmö, Limhamn, Klagshamn, and Skanör. Although the Øresund in October is rough, it was also the month to get help

King Christian X riding his horse on Gyldenløvsgade in Copenhagen in 1940.

from an unlikely source, sild, or herring.

grandparents and father had to flee Berlin

began its round up, Duckwitz disclosed

in 1939, is a volunteer at Mystic Seaport

the plan to Hans Hedtoft, the leader of

Museum­­—­named the Museum’s 2017 Wil-

Denmark’s dominant political party, the

liam C. Noyes Volunteers of the Year—and

Social Democrats. Hedtoft immediately

knows Gerda III and her story well. He

began a nationwide effort to warn and find

has been her caretaker since 2014.

temporary shelter for the country’s Jews.

As the author relates, the icy coexis-

When Gestapo agents swept through

tence between Danes and German oc-

Jewish homes on the night of October 1,

cupation forces collapsed in the summer

they came up almost empty-handed,

of 1943. Strikers began to disrupt work at

capturing only 202 Jews in Copenhagen

industrial sites that Germany had taken

and another 82 in the rest of the country.

over to produce war equipment, and a

Approximately 7,970 Jews had escaped

sabotage campaign began to take root.

the Nazis’ clutches and found temporary

On August 25, Holger Danske—a Danish

shelter in homes, churches, hospitals, and

resistance group named after a folktale

other hiding places.

hero—blew up a convention hall that was

However, “the chase had just begun.

being transformed into German barracks.

The only possible destination that the

In the aftermath of that attack, Ger-

Gestapo could not reach was Sweden and

many declared martial law, whereupon

the only way to get there was by boat,”

the Danish government resigned.

Veisz states. But first Sweden had to open

With Nazi Germany now in full control,

its doors. The necessary persuasion was

the “final solution” reached Denmark. The

provided by Danish nuclear physicist

Nazis hatched a ruthless plan to capture

Niels Bohr, the 1922 Nobel Prize winner

all of Denmark’s Jews during a single

in Physics, whose mother was Jewish.

night, and send them on the path to an-

He and his wife were brought to Sweden

nihilation. In any other occupied country,

onboard a Danish fishing boat. There an

the plan would have succeeded. Not so

airplane was waiting to take them to Eng-

in Denmark.

land, from which Bohr would go on to the

The unraveling began with a civilian

United States to join physicists working

member of the German occupation staff,

on the atomic bomb. But first Bohr went

Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, who traveled to

to Stockholm to meet the Swedish For-

neutral Sweden to persuade Prime Minister

eign Minister Christian Günther and King

Per Albin Hansson to provide a safe haven

Gustaf V to plea for the Danish Jews to be

for the Danish Jews. Hansson, concerned

welcomed to their neighboring country.

about unleashing German reprisals, de-

After the meeting, the Swedish govern-

clined to do so without Germany’s consent.

ment went on the radio to welcome all

With 72 hours to go before the Gestapo

Danish Jews to Sweden.

In October 1943, 1,300 fishing boats were licensed to go out on the Sound for the herring season. “The Nazis banned pleasure boats from Øresund when the rescue efforts began, but interfering with the her-

Henny setting sail at Hellerup in 1946. Photo courtesy of the Sundø family.


| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine | 19

GERDA III ring catch was unthinkable,” Veisz writes. Fishing provided an excuse to leave port. While thousand boats that were actually fishing, this helped camouflage the hundreds of boats engaged in the rescue. One of the Danes who helped her Jewish countrymen was Henny Sinding, the 22-year-old daughter of Paul Sinding, commander of the Danish Lighthouse and Buoy Service. Henny asked her father to move Gerda III to the Christianshavn Canal, close to central Copenhagen, from the boat’s war-time base at the Royal Dockyards. He agreed without asking why. Henny and a university-based resistance group made contact with Jews in hiding places throughout Copenhagen and es-

Gerda III resting at the L.A. Dunton dock at Mystic Seaport Museum.

corted them to safe houses near Gerda III’s dock. It then became Henny’s job to lead the refugees to a warehouse. In the early morning hours, Henny and the Gerda III’s four-man crew smuggled one refugee at a time past German sentries onto the boat. Henny and the crew smuggled up to 15 people aboard and hid them in the boat’s hold. Then Gerda III set out on her official voyage to carry supplies to Drogden Lighthouse—with a quick detour to a Swedish port where she unloaded her “cargo.” During her more than 20 crossings, around 300 Jews were taken to safety. Hundreds of other boats participated in this exodus, saving a total of 7,742 Jews,

captain came aboard and ordered the

continue fighting the Germans. He was

Danish crew to open the hatches to the

later captured and killed in March when

fish hold so he could inspect their catch.

he attempted to escape a vehicle taking

The captain stared down at several terri-

him to face a firing squad.

fied faces looking up at him. He hesitated

On May 5, 1945, the day after the Ger-

for a moment then shouted back to his

mans surrendered, Henny and the Danish

crew, “Ah, Fisch!” He returned to his boat,

Brigade crossed the Øresund to a free

which took off.

Denmark. In March 1947, Henny married

Gerda III would continue her rescue mission throughout the war, smuggling another 700 Danish resistance fighters and their families and Allied airmen, who had parachuted over Denmark, across the Øresund. The boat was also involved in weapon smuggling to the Danish resistance groups. She was without doubt one

or an incredible 95 percent of the Jewish

of the most successful Danish liberation

population in Denmark.

boats during the war.

Addressing the power of the moral

Henny and the group of rescuers, who

example set by the Danes and Duckwitz,

utilized Gerda III, remained united after

Veisz also mentions some Germans who,

the Jewish rescue operation and, work-

unlike the Gestapo agents who relentlessly

ing as HD2 (a follow-up group to Holger

pursued the Danish Jews and their rescu-

Danske), went on to become one of Den-

ers, found a “moral compass” that was

mark’s most aggressive sabotage rings.

not in line with the common Nazi course.

In February 1944, when the Gestapo was

When Duckwitz sought the help of a like-

closing in on her, Henny had to flee across

minded friend, Korvettenkapitän Richard

the Øresund. In Sweden, she reunited

Camman, who was the commander of

with her boyfriend Eric Koch “Mix” Mi-

a group of German patrol boats in Co-

chaelsen, a Danish Navy cadet and resis-

penhagen, Camman, without hesitation,

tance fighter. They both joined the Danish

ordered his boats taken out of service

Brigade, which was trained in Sweden.

for “repairs” during the opening days of

The brigade’s plan was to invade Den-

the evacuation. There is also the story

mark together with the Allies. However,

how a Danish fishing boat was stopped

Mix was a restless soul and in January

by a German patrol boat. The German

1945, he rowed back to his homeland to

20 |

Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |


another resistance fighter, Erling Sundø. She died in 2009, age 87. In 1989, the Danish Government donated Gerda III to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Gerda III is now at Mystic Seaport Museum for safekeeping, where Howard Veisz does maintenance work on her and tells the boat’s story. With his well-researched, wonderfully written, and powerful tale about Gerda III, the courageous Henny, and other Danish resistance fighters, Veisz has composed a book, which, at times, reads like a World War II thriller—only that it all really happened 70 years ago. It is important to remember what heroism and humanity look like, especially in our time. Or, as Veisz puts it about Henny, the Gerda III crew, and the brave Danes, “Their story is a compelling reminder of what good people can accomplish when they resolve to combat bigotry and oppression.” Göran R Buckhorn, editor of Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine, is a Swede who was born and grew up in Malmö, just across the Øresund from Copenhagen.


The Age of the Vikings

The Norsemen Saga


If you are looking for a book with facts about the Viking era, look no further—The Age of the Vikings is the one! Written by Anders Winroth, professor of medieval history at Yale University, this book is a pleasure to read. Winroth, who is from Sweden, writes in an elegant, amusing, and entertaining way about the period when the Vikings ruled the seas and the waterways in the northern parts of Europe, down to the Spanish coast and even to the Byzantine Empire and the area controlled by the Caliphate. Traces of the Vikings have been found at “exotic places like al-Khwarezm in central Asia and Newfoundland in America, Seville in southwestern Spain, and the White Sea on the northern shore of Russia,” the author writes. Winroth is a superb guide who takes the reader through the Scandinavians’ politics, trade, agriculture, religion, art, literature, military power, discovery, colonization, and much more. While many of the European kingdoms were weak and in turmoil during the Viking Age, this period was a dynamic and creative time for the Scandinavians, who were “bursting with energy” and brought down kingdoms almost with ease. The author has dug deep in contemporary written, visual, and material sources. There are no written sources by the Vikings, except what is carved on runestones. Instead today’s scholars have to rely on materials scripted in Old Irish, Old English, and Medieval Latin by some of those who survived the fury of the Norsemen or who were eyewitness to their atrocities. Other sources are Norse skaldic poetry written down much later, together with the sagas by the Icelandic storytellers. Though the Vikings were violent—they plundered, looted, and took slaves—they were not “mindless killing machines.” They lived in a violent time, and their reputation for bloodthirstiness has stuck, even while others—Charlemagne for example, who is regarded today as the “founding father of Europe”— committed genocide in the process of the unification of Europe, something which is largely forgotten nowadays. The Vikings also settled peacefully in far-away lands where they had traveled to trade and explore. Some of the important sources of Viking customs were written in Arabic, for example, by Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a Muslim civil servant from Baghdad, who traveled to places along the Volga River where the Rus people lived (the Rus were originally Vikings who had emigrated from present-day Sweden). Many Arab gold and silver coins have been found in Viking graves around Scandinavia—more than 80,000 Arabic silver dirhams have been found on the Swedish island of Gotland alone. These findings show the noteworthy and widespread network of trade done by the Scandinavians during the Viking Age. The Age of the Vikings, which is a scholarly work without academic dryness, sheds new light on the Norsemen, their culture, and their time. Anders Winroth has written a very fine book.


The master storyteller James L. Nelson is now up to volume seven in his fictional series called The Norsemen Saga, which is about the adventures of the Viking Thorgrim Ulfsson, nicknamed “Night Wolf,” and his men from Norway. Thorgrim is a rich farmer, who got his reputation and wealth from going plundering as a young man with The first book in James L. Nelson’s Norsemen Saga. his father-in-law-to-be, Jarl Ornolf Hrafnsson, “Ornolf the Restless.” Ornolf likes Thorgrim and offers him his daughter Hallbera’s hand in marriage. They are a good match and Hallberra gives Thorgrim four children. Sadly, Hallberra dies in childbirth. Stricken by grief, Thorgrim takes the opportunity to once more go a-viking with Ornolf. Thorgrim’s youngest son, Harald, age 15, joins them on the voyage, which goes to Ireland in 852 AD. Raiding the Irish coast, where the plunder is good, Thorgrim and his band of Vikings get involved in the power struggle between the Irish kings and chieftains. They also meet other Vikings, some of whom have settled in Ireland in towns such as Dubh-linn. At times, it is difficult to tell who is friend and who is foe. Throughout the series, Thorgrim and his Norsemen meet violence at both land and sea, and barely make it out alive from battles and skirmishes. At one point, Thorgrim is made lord of the longphort settlement Vík-ló. Thorgrim longs for home, but each time he tries to sail back to Norway, the gods set him on another adventurous path. As a former professional sailor, Nelson knows how to handle a sailing vessel in a gale, including a longship. He spins a good yarn and the plots make it hard to put down any of the novels in the series of the Viking Thorgrim and his men. To order these or other books, please call 860.572.5386 or email msmbookstore@eventnetwork.com Don’t forget your 10% members’ discount! Remember, we ship anywhere. Go to www.mysticseaport.org for upcoming book signings.


During World War II, the Swedish poet, essayist, biographer, and translator Frans G. Bengtsson came out with his two-volume novel Röde Orm (1941 and 1945). The first volume came out in an early edition in America as Red Orm, translated by Barrows Mussey in 1943. The next English edition, called The Long Ships, came in an excellent translation by Michael Meyer in 1954. Neither the Swedish nor English editions have ever been out of print. Bengtsson’s language in The Long Ships is based on the Icelandic

to Andalusia and beyond. After having been captured and enslaved on one of Caliph Al-Mansur’s galleys, Röde Orm and the Vikings join Al-Mansur’s bodyguard. After several campaigns in the service of Al-Mansur, Röde Orm, now a chieftain, and his men set sail to Nordic latitudes, where they are invited to celebrate Yule at the court of Harald Bluetooth of Denmark. In a review of the book in the spring/summer 2011 issue of Mystic Seaport Magazine, the reviewer wrote: “There is no funnier story in the 20thcentury Swedish literature than the account of King Harald’s feast.”

sagas, and he has not missed the opportunity to tell the story with

In the second half of Bengtsson’s saga, Röde Orm and his best friend

humorous understatements and wonderful wit. The tale covers ap-

Toke, a fearful fighter who is always ready to declaim a good verse for

proximately the years from 980 to 1010 and begins with the young Röde

a vessel of ale, go east to Kievan Rus’ (parts of present-day Belarus,

Orm being captured by Vikings who raid his father’s farm. Together with

Ukraine, and Russia) to capture a gold treasure.

the Vikings, he sets out on a seafaring adventure which will take them

Who knew that Viking life could be so much fun‽ SPRING / SUMMER 2018

| Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine | 21



one of a number of influen-

Two current events

tial patrons he would have,

acted as inspiration for

including both King George

writing this piece about

III and his son, the Duke

John Thomas Serres’ The

of Clarence. The book, ac-

Little Sea Torch, an early

cording to the title page,

19th-century translation

described the coastal wa-

of a French book of sail-

ters and ports of England,

ing directions called Le

Ireland, France, Spain,

Petit Flambeau de la Mer.

Portugal, and the Mediter-

Serres, an accomplished

ranean region. Shown here

marine artist and son of

are just two illustrations

another famous marine

among many, these show-

artist, Dominic Serres,

ing a view of the harbor of

also painted the landfalls,

Palermo along with a chart

harbors, and lighthouses

of the Gulf of Palermo, both

for this book.

executed by Serres. The

A recent trip to Sicily reminded me of this lovely publication, housed in our rare book collection in the G.W. Blunt White Library, thus the choice of illustrations. The second event was the hiring

sailing directions for the Gulf state, in part, “About

Rare Book VK 839 B75 Folio. G.W. Blunt White Library.


of a new Special Collec-

three leagues W.S.W. distant from Cape Garbinos there is a large Bay, in which the city of Palermo is situated. Opposite the city is a large square Mole, under the shelter of which,

tions Librarian to oversee the rare book

our researchers. However, in addition to

ships anchor in six fathoms, safe from all

collection. Our former caretaker of the

the collection of individual charts, there are

winds.” The calm view of the harbor and

collection, Susan Filupeit, retired from her position after exemplary custodianship for more than 35 years. Patrick Ford, the new librarian who came to us from the Maine Historical Society, has big shoes to fill but is certainly up to the task. Over the span of a few years ending in 2017, the library was fortunate to have an assessment done of our map and chart collection and then to receive a grant to create an online, digital finding aid for that collection of more than 10,000 items. The

numerous atlases and books of charts and sailing directions. Apart from The Little Sea Torch, the library’s collection includes various editions of The English Pilot, first produced by John Seller in 1671, The West India Atlas by Thomas Jefferys from 1794, and other bound collections in Dutch, French, etc. from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Serres the younger dedicated this volume to The Right Honorable Earl Spencer, then the First Lord of the Admiralty and

city from this 1801 publication lies in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of 21stcentury Palermo. We are fortunate to have had our patrons over the years to donate such items to our collections. We look forward to adding more such treasures in the future for use by the many researchers who make their way to our collections. Paul O’Pecko is Vice President of Research Collections and Director of the G.W. Blunt White Library.

work completed by Rich Malley, former Head of Collections and Research at the Connecticut Historical Society, has made the collection more easily accessible for

22 |

Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine |


To get more information about the Collections Research Center of Mystic Seaport Mueum and online resources, please visit research.mysticseaport.org




ANCHORS AWEIGH July 28-September 23 The Maritime Gallery

SCIENCE, MYTH, AND MYSTERY: THE VINLAND MAP SAGA May 19 – September 30 R.J. Schaefer Building SEA MUSIC FESTIVAL June 7-10 VIKING DAYS June 16-17 PLEIN AIR EXHIBITION June 16-September 23 (June 12-16 artists on campus) The Maritime Gallery





INTERNATIONAL MARINE ART EXHIBITION September 29-December 31 The Maritime Gallery


AMERICA AND THE SEA AWARD GALA October 3 CHOWDER DAYS October 6-8 NAUTICAL NIGHTMARES October 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27, 28

2018-2019 ADVENTURE SERIES Begins October 18.

DYER DHOW DERBY October 13 PILOTS WEEKEND October 13-14 EDUCATORS’ APPRECIATION DAY October 20 HALLOWEEN: TRICK-OR-TREAT October 31 MARITIME MINIATURES BY MARITIME MASTERS November 17-January 31, 2019 The Maritime Gallery FIELD DAYS November 23-24 LANTERN LIGHT TOURS November 23, 24, 30 December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23 (December 16 snow day) New Exhibition! DEATH IN THE ICE: THE MYSTERY OF THE FRANKLIN EXPEDITION. December 1-April 28, 2019 Collins Gallery COMMUNITY CAROL SING December 16

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Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine -- Spring/Summer 2018  

This is the spring/summer issue of Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine.

Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine -- Spring/Summer 2018  

This is the spring/summer issue of Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine.